Monday, March 18, 2019

Solemnity of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her." (Matthew 1: 20).

Joseph listened to the word of God and believed what he heard and obeyed.

Today is the Solemnity of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a feast in Lent which means no fasting and abstinence on this day. Who is St Joseph?
"St Joseph is considered the second greatest saint, next to the Blessed Virgin Mary, because of his humility and the closeness he had to Jesus as his foster father. Scripture tells us that Joseph was just, pure, gentle, prudent and unfailingly obedient to the divine will." (Roman Missal).

St Joseph is widely known as patron saint of workers and of happy death.

"Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord, for ever singing your praise.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ." (Psalm 83: 5).

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Imitate your Father in being merciful.

"Be merciful, as your Father is merciful, says the Lord."  (Luke  6: 36).

Yesterday, at the Mountain of Transfiguration, we heard Abba Father say: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Luke 9: 35).

Today, we listened to Jesus and heard Him say to us: "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful."  (Luke  6: 36).

God has many attributes: goodness, kindness, love, faithfulness, long-suffering or patience, almighty, all-knowing, etc.
The one attribute that is key to the heart of God is mercy. Jesus Christ is the Face of the mercy of God. Jesus Christ became man so that man already created in the image of God will become god.

What if we refuse to show mercy? Jesus says: "Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6: 38).

The ABC of Mercy can help us to practice mercy.
Ask for mercy.
Be merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

"Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
The seed is the word of God, Christ the sower; whoever finds this seed will remain for ever.
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!" (Gospel Acclamation).

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Abba Father, I listened to Your Son.

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Luke 9: 35).

On the Second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel is the Transfiguration of the Lord by St Luke. For me, the most important message is the command of the Father: Listen to my Son Jesus. With this in mind, I combed the Scripture Readings in today's Liturgy to hear what Jesus, the Word of God says to me. I share below what I hear:

#1 "Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith." (Genesis 15: 5 - 6).

#2 "I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD." (Psalm 27: 13 - 14).

#3 "But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself." (Philippians 3: 20 - 21).

Abba Father commanded us to listen to His beloved Son Jesus. I listened and heard three messages that will make me happy today and for a long time. How about you? What do you hear?

"Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
From the bright cloud the Father’s voice was heard: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’
Glory and praise to you, O Christ!" (Matthew 17: 5).

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Be merciful and you shall receive mercy.

"Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect, says the Lord." (Matthew  5: 48).

Saturday, the first week of Lent, there is so much wisdom from the word of God to spur us on our Lenten Journey.

"Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5: 44). Jesus set an unforgettable example with this commandment when still hanging from the cross, He forgave all those who nailed Him to the cross and left Him to die slowly. How do you feel when you demand that your enemies must show remorse and repentance before you forgive them?

"Jesus surrendered himself to death, letting himself be taken for a sinner.* He bore the faults of many while praying for sinners.
℣. Jesus said, Father, forgive them: they do not know what they are doing.* He bore the faults of many while praying for sinners." (Office of Readings).

Do not say: Jesus can do this because He is God. Stephen, the first martyr did exactly the same. So did every martyr down the centuries. They all forgave those who were executing them.

Nobody can claim that forgiving serious crimes or malicious fraud is easy. But try praying for the offenders and you will be surprised that you too can forgive. Jesus made forgiveness of your enemies the condition not only for your own forgiveness but for receiving special favors from God.
Remember the ABC of Mercy:
Ask for mercy.
Be merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

"Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus! Blessed are those who,
with a noble and generous heart,
take the word of God to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance. Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!" (Cf. Luke 8:15).

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Set me free from my sins, O Lord.

"Set me free from my distress, O Lord. See my lowliness and suffering, and take away all my sins." (Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 24: 17-18).

Friday in the first week of Lent: The dominant theme of today's Readings is Sin and Reconciliation.

"But if the wicked turn from the wickedness they did and do what is right and just, they save their lives;  since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die." (Ezekiel 18: 27 - 28).

We remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The younger son turned from his wicked life style and returned home.
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.” (Luke 15: 18).

What did the other son, the "just son" do?
"He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.  But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf." (Luke 15: 29 - 30).

The first born and "just son" has turned away from righteousness to think evil in his heart.
"When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds." (Ezekiel 18: 26 NLT).

"As I live, says the Lord, I do not desire the death of the sinner,
but rather that he turn back and live." (Ezekiel 33: 11).

"Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory! Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and that the Lord God of hosts may really be with you. Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!" (Cf Amos 5:14).

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

On the day I called, You answered me Lord.

"On the day I called, you answered me O Lord." (Psalm 138: 3).

You may call the theme of the Scriptures today, Thursday, first week of Lent "Ask and Receive Thursday." Thank You Jesus for the word You give us today to encourage us to be steadfast in prayer and assure us that Abba Father answers every prayer. We believe that You are faithful to every single promise You make.

In the first Reading from the Book of Esther, we learn from Queen Esther the practice of prayer: a perfect formula for effective prayer:
#1 Condition for prayer.
#2 Posture of prayer.
#3 Duration of prayer.
#4 Words of prayer.
#5 Importance of prayer partnership.

"Everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7: 8).

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7: 7 - 8 that God's promise on prayer is infallible. What impresses me very much about Matthew 7: 7 - 8 is that from the very beginning of Christianity many saints appeal to this promise in their battle of prayer. You can do the same.

"Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God! A pure heart create for me, O God, and give me again the joy of your help. Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!" (Psalm 50:12,14).

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Ninevites heard the Prophet Jonah and believed the word of God.

"The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:  Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you." (Jonah 3: 1 - 2).

On Wednesday in the first week of Lent, we ask: What can we learn from the story of Jonah?

“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown,”  the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth." (Jonah 3: 4 - 5).

The people of Nineveh heard the word of God from the Prophet Jonah that their city will be destroyed in forty days and they believed the word of God. This is classic definition of faith. Faith is to believe that the word of God is true. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. But the Ninevites did more than believe.  "They proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth."

"When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out." (Jonah 3: 10).

One week since the beginning of Lent 2019, are you hearing any word from God? Are you believing anything you hear? Is what you believe producing works of righteousness?

"Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, for I am all tenderness and compassion.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ!" (Joel 2: 12 - 13).

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Jesus, thank You for giving us the Lord's Prayer.

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6: 8).
He also knows when you need it.

Tuesday of the first week of Lent, our Lord and Teacher gives us the gift of this wonderful prayer, the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father. In Matthew 6: 8 above, we have one of the most comforting Scripture, the most unforgettable promise in the entire Bible. Thank You Jesus.

What will you do if you ask your dad for a special gift and you are aware of these facts:
#1 He is willing.
#2 He is able.
#3 He has the means to satisfy every desire of your heart.
#4 He is your father.

Awareness of the above facts changes the dynamics of the interaction with your father. You are confident, expectant and bold. Right? Jesus wants you to feel exactly this way when you approach Abba Father for anything.

Lent is the spring time of harvesting the crème de la crème of the Sacred Word. Do not fail to read and appropriate these promises during Lent 2019.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Fix your eyes on God till He shows you mercy.

"Like the eyes of slaves on the hand of their Lord's, so our eyes are on the Lord our God, till he show us his mercy. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy." (Cf Psalm 123 : 2-3).

Monday in the first week of Lent 2019, our word for today is from the Entrance Antiphon. We are exhorted to fix our eyes on the Lord as the servant fixes his eyes on the hands of his master while he serves him at table.

At the beginning of Lent, we hear that this Season is the most favorable Season to obtain mercy and favors from God. We do so through expectant and persistent prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Do not say: "I have no sin. I do not need mercy." You do not want to call God a liar?

Remember the ABC of mercy:
Ask for mercy.
Be merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

"Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory! Now is the favourable time: this is the day of salvation.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!" ( 2 Corinthians 6:2).

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Saturday, March 09, 2019

All this will be yours if you worship me.

"Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil." (Luke 4: 1- 2).

First Sunday in Lent, the Church presents us the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert. Nobody can go through life without multiple desert experiences. Jesus was severely tempted after 40 days of rigorous fasting. He was tempted to abandon the path His Father marked out for His mission for a grandiose scheme of the Devil.

The Devil took Jesus up and showed Him downtown of the city with the glistening skyscrapers and malls. "All this will be yours, if you worship me,” said the Devil. (Luke 4: 7).

Not a few people dream how to become millionaires. Scripture has many counsels for such temptations.

#1 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." (Matthew 6: 19 - 21).

#2 "Keep your lives free from love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never leave you, I will never abandon you'" (Hebrews 13:5).

#3 Man does not live on money alone.  Man is created to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  (Cf Matthew 4 : 4).

Jesus defeated Satan by quoting the Scriptures. Can we afford to do less? Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ, says St Jerome.

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Friday, March 08, 2019

How is your Sunday observance?

"If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the sabbath a delight, the Lord’s holy day glorious; If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs— Then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 58: 13 - 14)

The Sabbath observance brings blessings. How do I know? Go through Sacred Scripture and you will find scattered throughout its books blessings pronounced on the Sabbath and its observance. This starts from the Creation Account in the very beginning of Genesis. God rested on the 7th day after His work of creation and pronounced blessing on the 7th Day, the Sabbath.

Why do so many people not keep holy the Lord's Day? Unbelief or Ignorance? Lent is a good time to evaluate where you stand in keeping holy the Lord's Day.

"Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!
Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.
Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!" (Cf Psalm 94 :8).

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Thursday, March 07, 2019

How is your fasting?

“Why do we fast, but you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, but you take no note?” (Isaiah 58: 3).

Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving are supposed to produce beneficial results for us. Right? These People of the Covenant perceived that they afflict themselves in vain. Instead of brooding in silence, they asked God why?

"See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. See, you fast only to quarrel and fight and to strike with a wicked fist!" (Isaiah 58: 3 - 4).

How is your fasting? Do you believe as you pray? Do you live as you believe? What do you know about the spiritual and corporal works of mercy?

Corporal Works of Mercy:
1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit the imprisoned
7. Bury the dead

"Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and that the Lord God of hosts may really be with you.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ!"  (Cf.Amos5:14).

"Show gracious favour, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances we undertake. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."

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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Choose life and prosperity.

"Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom." (Deuteronomy 30: 15)..... If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am giving you today.." (30: 16).....  I tell you today that you will certainly perish;" (30: 18)....
"I call heaven and earth today to witness against you." (30: 19).

Thursday after Ash Wednesday, there is an unmistakable note of urgency in the message from Deuteronomy, our first Reading for today. "Today", the key word is used 4 times in the message. Why? The answer may be in the Gospel for today:

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily [today] and follow me." (Luke 9: 23).
Then the Teacher asks:" What profit is there for one to gain the whole world [today] yet lose or forfeit himself?" (Luke 9: 25).

"Prompt our actions [today] with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,
and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever." (Collect, Thursday after Ash Wednesday).

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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent 2019.

"Have mercy on us Lord, for we have sinned." (Cf Psalm 51).

"If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1: 10).

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. Lent is the Season appointed for repentance and spiritual purification. Our God is kind and merciful. Let this truth encourage us to turn to the Lord without fear for our inward renewal.

Lent is the Journey of Faith to the supreme joy of Easter. If we die with Christ, we shall rise with Christ.

"Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!" (Cf. Psalm 94:8).

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Monday, March 04, 2019

What have you given up for Jesus lately?

"Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses.... with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come." (Mark 10: 29 - 30).

After reading this, I looked around to see what I have given up for Jesus? Pretty little it seems to me. What have I received from Jesus? Everything! How do I make right this in-equilibrium? The answer might be in the Book of Sirach, our first Reading today:

"Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means." (Sirach 35: 12).

The sacred writer goes on to remind us: "For he is a God who always repays and will give back to you sevenfold." (Sirach 35: 13).

From Jesus:
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." (Matthew 10: 42).

These are timely lessons for Lent 2019 which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. The three pillars of Lent are: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

"By works of charity one offers fine flour, and one who gives alms presents a sacrifice of praise." (Sirach 35: 3 - 4).

Do not forget brothers and sisters that God provides us everything we have including the offerings we bring to the Altar. Our Abba Father sees our gifts as signs of our desire to serve Him. He rewards for it.

Be generous this Lent 2019.

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Sunday, March 03, 2019

One essential thing you lack in life can ruin everything.

 “Teacher, all of these [commandments]. I have observed from my youth.” (Mark 10: 20).

The rich young man that Jesus encountered in today's Gospel is luckier than most of us. How many of us can boast that we have kept all the commandments from our earliest days? Yet he lacked one thing. In life, it may be the one essential thing you lack that can ruin your prospects on: health, family, financial prospects, job prospects, etc.

The rich young man lacked freedom and detachment from his wealth and it ruined his prospects of permanent employment with Jesus. Instead of Sacred Scripture recording his identity as "St Justus", it labeled him as "a rich young man."

Are you being smothered by your possessions? Has the clutter in your life become a source of constant headaches? We have good news for you. Lent 2019 starts in 2 days, March 6th. Lent is the best Season in the year to tackle our major headaches and win the battle.

"Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty." (2 Corinthians 8: 9).

Thanksgiving and Praise will bring you to victory in your struggle against evil.
"I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me, sing psalms to the name of the Lord Most High." (Cf. Psalm 12: 6).

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Saturday, March 02, 2019

The Path to Freedom and Victory.

"The Lord became my protector.
He brought me out to a place of freedom; he saved me because he delighted in me." (Entrance Antiphon: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Last Sunday before Lent 2019).

How did the Lord brought me to a place of freedom? 4 unforgettable steps that constitute my path to freedom /victory:
#1 Knowledge of His grace.
#2 Knowledge of mercy
#3 Prayer as a vital resource.
#4 Abandonment to Divine Providence. You may call this: Sweet Surrender.

The Lord's grace and mercy cover the 7 areas of His promises which are always available to you and me:
Pardon, Peace, Power, Purpose, Presence, Protection and Provision.

I believe in Prayer.
I believe in the word of God.
I believe in miracle.
I leave the rest to God.(Abandonment to Divine Providence).

Lent 2019 starts on Wednesday, March 6th with Ash Wednesday. Make Lent 2019 your best. Could be your last.

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Friday, March 01, 2019

The little child is the face of the Kingdom of God.

"Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." (Mark 10: 15).

We know that the Kingdom of God is the life work of Jesus. He spoke incessantly of the Kingdom. Jesus teaches that this Kingdom is already among us here and now. The Church bears testimony to this truth by teaching that the Church is the seed and beginning of the Kingdom on earth. (CCC 541).

What is this Kingdom pure and simple? First, where there is a Kingdom, there must be a King. Where there is a King, there must be subjects. Where there are subjects, there must be laws. The Kingdom pure and simple is the Reign of Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. Jesus reigns already in the hearts and minds of all who accept and welcome His authority.
Do we have an example of such a person? Jesus points to the little child.

The little child is the face of innocence in whom the Holy Spirit likes to dwell and play. The little child manifests the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
1. Charity
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Generosity
8. Gentleness
9. Faithfulness
10. Modesty
11. Self-control
12. Chastity

Aim to become like a little child and the Kingdom of God will be yours and all the rest as well.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

A faithful friend is beyond price.

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure." (Sirach 6: 14).

The Bible gives us a word of wisdom on friendship. Jesus calls His disciples His friends. He is certainly a faithful friend to them even though they abandoned Him at the hour of His need. “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17). Not when the going is good.

The two best examples of friendship from the Bible are Jonathan and David and Ruth and Naomi. Both friendships attain the lofty standard of Sirach 6: 5 - 17, our first Reading today.

"A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth." (Sirach 6: 15). No question about that. But where do you find such a friend? I know a few people who are blessed to have such friendship. A great blessing is to have your spouse as a bosom friend. Again this is not too common.

"A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds. For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself." (Sirach 6: 16 - 17).

These last two verses hold out bright hope for those of us who can't boast of great friendship today. Do you fear the Lord? Do you love the Lord? All things are possible for God. You might still meet that special friend if it is God's will for you.

"O Lord, I trust in your merciful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me."
(Psalm 12: 6).

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

First Friday in March, 2019.

Jesus promised 12 special graces and favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 3rd month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #3.

#3.  "I will console them in all their troubles."

In Promise #3, Jesus does not promise a trouble free life.  "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16: 33 ). Consider also:
"My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal." (Sirach 2: 1).

Troubles are opportunity to trust Jesus more. "I promise to be your strength in proportion to the trust you place on Me." The more you trust Jesus, the more He is your strength and security.

Remind the Lord often of these promises. Remind Him also of His promise to answer every prayer. (Matthew 7: 7).

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of March, 2019.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Do not be presumptuous of forgiveness.

"Do not delay turning back to the Lord, do not put it off day after day."(Sirach 5: 7).

A week today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent 2019. Lent is the Season of abundant grace and mercy. The word of God from Sirach read today all over the world asks us to be prepared for deep metanoia (conversion) during Lent 2019.

"Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin.
Say not: “Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.” (Sirach 5: 5 - 6).

The Bible compares the sin of presumption to witchcraft and idolatry. (Cf 1 Samuel 15: 23)

"For suddenly his wrath will come forth; at the time of vengeance, you will perish." (Sirach 5: 7).

"Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord. He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1: 1,3 - 4)

"Accept God’s message for what it really is: God’s message, and not some human thinking." (Cf.1 Thessalonians 2:13).

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

To love and cherish Lady Wisdom is to love life.

"Wisdom brings up her own sons,
and cares for those who seek her." (Sirach 4: 11).

We continue our reflection on the word of God from the Book of Sirach. In the above, we see Wisdom as personification of the adorable and awesome Spirit. And here, she is a beautiful and tender woman. A mother!

"Whoever loves her loves life, those who wait on her early will be filled with happiness.
Whoever holds her close will inherit honour, and wherever he walks the Lord will bless him.
Those who serve her minister to the Holy One, and the Lord loves those who love her." (Sirach 4: 12 - 14).

How do we love, cherish and serve Lady Wisdom? Remember that Lady Wisdom is personification of the Holy Spirit.
First and foremost, you must desire her more than silver and gold. You must seek her assiduously through prayer and the study of her word. Since the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, you must come frequently to the source of living water, the Sacraments especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation where she inhabits.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;
No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14: 6).

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Prepare yourself for trials.

"My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal." (Sirach 2: 1).

Prepare yourself for trials when you choose to serve Jesus and work for His Kingdom. Unlike recruiters in the market place, the cost of discipleship is not hidden from would be Christians. The missionaries to Japan in the 16th and 17th century told the Japanese converts the same truth. When they asked what then will be their reward for choosing the Way, the answer was from the promises of Jesus that can never fail: Everlasting life of pure ecstasy. Do you believe it? Because the Japanese Christians believed it, they faced martyrdom with their missionaries.

"Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation." (Sirach 2: 4 - 5).

St Paul Miki, the Japanese Jesuit martyr along with other priests and their parishioners drew encouragement from the promises of God as they were about to be crucified and speared.

"Commit your life to the Lord, trust him and he will act.
If you trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live in the land and be secure.
If you find your delight in the Lord, he will grant your heart’s desire." (Psalm 37: 3 - 4).

The ultimate desire of every human being is eternal life. Heaven. It profits man absolutely nothing to possess everything in this world and lose Heaven.

Show that you desire Heaven by recounting the wonders of the Lord day by day. Rejoice in Him and be glad in His wonderful promise of Eternal Life.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Yes I believe. Increase my faith and hope and love.

"But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (Mark 9: 22).

The desperate father of the boy possessed by a demon expressed his prayer for the healing of his son in fearful, doubtful unbelief. Of course, Jesus is God and everything is possible for Him but equally important in this context, "Everything is possible to one who has faith.” (Mark 9: 23).

Can you separate faith from prayer? Never! Jesus promises that if your faith is as tiny as a mustard seed, ask for anything in accordance with God's will and you will receive it. In asking, Never Forget that Jesus promises that if you ask, you will receive. I am amazed as to how many saints from the beginning of Christianity to our day invoke this promise in Matthew 7: 7 in their prayers of petition and intercession.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Redeemed of God, do the same. Remind Jesus of this promise in faith and leave the rest to Him.

Do not allow yourself to be robbed of the "fullness of life" which Jesus promises in John 10:10. Let us take advantage of this good news today to affirm our faith:

#1 Yes I believe, but increase in me faith, hope, and love!

#2 Teach me always to see Your love as my guide in every event in my life.

#3  Teach me to surrender myself to You like a baby in its mother’s arms.

Your faith will take root in your mind and heart as you affirm it every day.

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Ask for mercy and be merciful.

#1 "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6: 36).

#2 "Forgive and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6: 37).

#3 "For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6: 38).

Jesus Christ, the face of mercy of Abba Father speaks to us of mercy this Sunday in the Scripture readings:

In Psalm 103, we read of great testimony to the mercy of God:
"The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

"He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.

"Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes." (Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13).

Experience of God's mercy produces trust and confidence in God's mercy.

Remember the ABC of Mercy:
Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Cain's sacrifice was rejected; Abel's was accepted.

"By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s." (Hebrews 11: 4).

Two brothers, Cain and Abel offered gifts to God. Abel's was accepted but Cain's was rejected. Why? Abel believed that God was the source of all his blessings. So he was confident in offering God the best of his first fruits knowing that he could never out do God in generosity. We can reap 3 possible lessons from this Scripture:

#1 Correct thought is the key to correct. Are your thoughts based on the revealed truths of the Bible? Are they based on the certain and solid teaching of the Sacred Magisterium? Or are they based on newspapers and TV?

#2 Your faith constitutes your world-view, what the Germans call weltangshaung. "By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible" (Hebrews 11: 3).

#3 Is faith the missing ingredient in your life? "But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11: 6).
Without faith, it is impossible to receive the greatest Promise of the Father: the precious and awesome Spirit.

"Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom and speak of your might." (Psalm 145: 10-11).

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Peter, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers.

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16: 18).

Today is the feast of the Chair of St Peter, Apostle. From the Roman Missal, we learn what this feast is all about.

"This Feast brings to mind the mission of teacher and pastor conferred by Christ on Peter, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon the Apostle, and renew our assent to the magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, extended both to truths which are solemnly defined "ex cathedra" and to all the acts of the ordinary magisterium."

"The Lord says to Simon Peter:
I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and, once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22: 32).

One of the key duties of the Petrine office is to confirm the faith of his fellow Bishops. We should encourage and confirm the faith of our fellow Christians.

We have below a great catechesis on the office of the Pope:

"Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The "power of the keys" designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: "Feed my sheep." The power to "bind and loose" connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom." (CCC 553).

Thank You Jesus for the Office of Peter.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

You are the Messiah. You are Satan.

 “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8: 33).

The above is a sharp rebuke to Peter after he articulated a revelation on the question below:

“But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to Jesus in reply, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8: 29).

Peter's Confession that Jesus is the long expected Messiah was the awaited signal for Jesus to start presenting His catechesis of the Cross. This is a very difficult subject for the disciples of every age.

"He [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days." (Mark 8: 31).

The formulation above constitutes the entirety of the early apostolic teaching. Note the sentence below:
"He spoke this openly." (Mark 8: 32).
The Apostles and followers repeated these catechesis until the New Testament was composed over 50 years after the Ascension of Jesus. Origen, first and eminent Christian theologian of the 2nd century wrote that this formula of faith was enough to sustain Christianity till the 2nd Coming of Christ. It shows that the power of the Gospel is the Cross.

"Wasn't it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?" (Luke 24: 26 NLT).

Rejection of the Cross is rejection of Jesus Christ says Pope Benedict XVI.

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2: 2).

The tree of the Cross bears the fruits of eternal life. "By this Cross you shall conquer."

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Do not even go near that village.

When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him." (Mark 8: 22).

Then followed a remarkable sequence of steps:
#1. Jesus led the blind man by the hand outside the village.
#2. He put spittle on the blind man's eyes.
#3. "Do you see anything?"
#4. Yes, but the images are distorted.

"Then he laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly." (Mark 8: 25).

Now Jesus instructs the man:  “Do not even go into the village.” (Mark 8: 26).

What are we to make of this remarkable incident? To say that for Jesus these steps and instruction to the man are unusual is to say the very obvious.
The blind man's situation is unique. He probably has heard of Jesus and intensely desired to be healed like Bartimaeus. (Mark 10: 46 - 52).
The blind man lived among people who probably were wicked and scorned faith and spiritual things.

Two possible lessons from this miracle:
#1. Never doubt your genuine spiritual experiences. The doubt has the power to rob you of your miracle.
#2. Move away from people who are cynical about your faith and values. They could influence and infect you more than you realize or can resist.

After you receive your miracle, give thanks in order to consolidate your faith and miracle:

"To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
 and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people." (Psalm 116: 12-14).

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Do you still not understand?

“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember?...... “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8: 17 - 18, 21).

How much spiritual things do you understand? Jesus laments the dullness of heart of His disciples. When he was trying to teach them to be on guard against the pernicious teachings of the Pharisees and the religious teachers, their minds turn to familiar things - bread and food simply because Jesus mentioned "leaven of the Pharisees and Herod." Are we not like the disciples?

We are grateful for this incident because Jesus used it as a teaching moment to coach us on the importance of understanding, remembering and having an open mind and heart if we are to grow in religious truth.

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18: 3).

St Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower understood and remembered the little things. She delighted the Heart of Jesus so much that Jesus taught her the mysteries of the Kingdom of God and made her a Doctor of the Church. St Therese continues her ministry of teacher of little things and missionary from heaven.

"The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." (John 14: 26).

This promise of Jesus is the ground for my hope when it comes to understanding and remembering the teachings of Jesus. How does this work? I ask the Holy Spirit to give me understanding and bring to my memory the wonderful things God has done for me.
I resolve never to forget "my ancient landmarks." (Proverbs 22: 28). I keep a journal.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why are you full of doubts?

“Why does this generation seek a sign?” (Mark 8: 12).

Why was Jesus sad that the people of His generation were still asking for a sign? They did not believe that Jesus is the Messiah or the Son of God. Jesus is the Way they must walk to eternal life. He is the Truth everyone must believe. He is the Life that begins here and meshes to eternal life. Yet this truth appeared absurd to His contemporaries and to many today.

The evidence for the claims of Jesus is manifest to all people of good will. Jesus gave us the Beatitudes which together is the way, the life and truth of Jesus. He founded the Church which is the seed of the Kingdom of God on earth. He gave the Church the Sacraments, the inspiration and power for the Journey to eternal life. He performs many miracles which can not be denied or wished away. Ultimately, He was crucified, died and was buried. Then He performed the greatest miracle: His Resurrection.

Do you still not understand? Why are you full of doubts? Stop doubting and believe!

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings.

"Thus says the Lord:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from theLord."  (Jeremiah 17: 5).

Blessings and curses depend upon our trust or lack of it in the Lord.

"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord; the Lord will be their trust."  (Jeremiah 17: 7).

When you trust God, God becomes your security in everything. The person who hopes (waits expectantly) in the Lord is promised to yield fruits in due season. His leaves never fade. The Holy Spirit directs his steps and so whatever he does prospers.

These four men served King Henry VIII in England in the 16th century: Cardinal Thomas Wosley, Thomas Cromwell and St Thomas More &  St John Fisher.  Cardinal Wosley and Cromwell trusted in the king rather than God.  They both died a miserable death.  Thomas More and John Fisher trusted in God. They are saints and venerated all over the world.

"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way."  (Luke 6: 26).

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Where are you, Adam?

"The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you?"  (Genesis 3: 9).

We read today the climax of the story of creation. There are 5 principal take aways:

#1 For deceiving Adam and Eve, the Serpent was cursed and chastised.  We may say that this deepened his envy and hatred for mankind.

#2  The ofsprings of Adam and Eve became marked by Original Sin.  They lost the original innocence.

#3  "I will intensify your toil in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children." (Genesis 3:  16).

#4  "Your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3: 16).
This is one a gravest consequence of Original Sin. This curse affects the state of peace and friendship between man and woman.  The infidelities, fightings, divorces can all be attributed to this curse. Eve's disobedience shattered the original innocence of the first Creation.

#5  And to man, "Cursed is the ground because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life." (Genesis 3: 17).

What does this mean? Human labor becomes cursed along with the earth.

All is not lost. The Lord God has Plan B:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel."   (Genesis 3: 15).
We have here in Genesis 3: 15, a glimpse of the the Good News.  God will send His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the world.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Did God really tell you that?

"Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made."  (Genesis 3: 1).

Chapter 3 of Genesis is probably the most important chapter in the Bible.  We see here a number of crucial salvation history themes: the Serpent, the Fall of Adam and Eve from grace, the Proto Evangelion, God's swift move to restore Man to favor through the Incarnation of His Son Jesus.

We know that Satan is cunning beyond compare. We know thanks to Jesus that he is the Father of lies.  But how much do we know of his implacable hatred of mankind and his insane envy of human beings? When Eve informed Satan that God forbade them to touch the tree in the middle of Eden, Satan countered by sowing doubts in the mind of Eve.

Did God really tell you that?  "God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” (Genesis 3: 5).

The woman's first serious mistake was to open up to discussion a subject that should be totally closed.  The Commandment of God. The core rule of Discernment of Spirits: Any fear, worry and doubt is Never from God.  Fight to banish it at once.

“If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Jesus said in reply, “It is written:
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4: 3 - 4).

We learn a lot from the combat of Jesus with Satan in the Desert.

The woman's persistence in continuing this foolish conversation handed the victory to Satan.
"The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom."  (Genesis 3: 6).

Then she succumbed.

"Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols."  (1 Samuel 15: 23).

"Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son."  (Cf Acts 16:14).

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Your wife will be a faithful friend.

"The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him."  (Genesis 2: 18).

Today we reflect on God's plan and promises to man and woman. What a wonderful and glorious aspirations God had for human beings.

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman'."  (Genesis 2: 23).

The man was elated to have a beautiful and suitable friend and soul mate.

"Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; and those who fear the Lord will find them.”  (Sirach 6: 14 - 16).

Those who fear the Lord shall enjoy faithful partners and friends.  And more.

"Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your home,
Your children like young olive plants around your table. Just so will the man be blessed who fears the Lord."  (Psalm 128: 3 - 4).

“Let the children be fed first."  (Mark 7: 27).

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Don't touch that tree in the middle.

"The Lord God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die."  (Genesis 2: 16 - 17).

After the Lord God settled Adam in the luscious Garden of Eden, He gave Adam one simple order:  Enjoy everything you like in the Garden.  Don't touch that tree in the middle. Don't eat of its fruit.
But Adam was unable to keep this simple command.

Where does evil and disobedience come from? Let us head to today's Gospel to look for answer:

"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”  Jesus teaches. (Mark 7: 21 - 23).

Still on the subject of evil and sin, Paul says:
"But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissension, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 18 - 21).

There is no remedy for evil and sin except in the provisions of the second creation: You must be born again in Spirit and fire. Have you undergone this baptism?  Do you want it?

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Monday, February 11, 2019

God created man and woman equal but different.

"Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth."  (Genesis 1: 26).

What can we learn from the story of creation from Genesis to nourish our souls?

#1. Human beings are the only thing God created in His image and likeness.  This truth lays the foundation for the rest of the story of man in the Scriptures. God gave man free will and never curtailed or interfered with man's liberty.

#2. God gave humans dominion over the works of His hands.  This is an incredibly important fact. If man wants to destroy his natural environment, he is free to do so but the consequences will be dire.

#3. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 
(Genesis 1: 27).
It is a silly falsehood to imply that God did not purposely make man and woman equal ontologically but different physiologically and psychologically. Each being attuned to its grand purpose in the logic of creation.

#4.  "God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1: 28).

We are richly blessed by our Creator. But this is the first creation. The second creation gets better.  Man will receive the Holy Spirit living inside him.  I like the way St Augustine puts it:  "God became man so that man will become god."

Do you know the Holy Spirit?

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

World Day of Prayer for the Sick.

"Whatever villages or towns or countryside he [Jesus] entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed."  (Mark 6: 56).

This Gospel is so appropriate for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which we celebrate today. February  11 is also the World Day of the Sick, an observation introduced by Pope St John Paul II as a way for Christians to pray for those with all types of health issues.  Lourdes in France is the premier pilgrimage shrine in the whole world for the sick.  Lourdes hosts millions of pilgrims every year from all over the world.  People seeking healing from every kind of disease and disorder.  Evidence of instant and miraculous healings in their thousands are on display: wheelchairs, crouches, canes, etc."

Let us ask Our Lady of Lourdes to intercede for the sick of the world.
Our Lady, Health of Christians, pray for us.

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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Much toiling and little result.

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5: 5).

Simon and his partners toiled all night but caught nothing. These are seasoned fishermen. Where are you in your profession?  If you toil much and accomplish little or nothing, it may be time for stocktaking.

Jesus knows your Next Step. Trust Him to lead and guide you as He did to Simon Peter, James and John. If you do whatever He tells you, you will have lifelong fulfilling employment and assured of life eternal.

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Friday, February 08, 2019

May the God of Peace bless you with abundant Peace.

"May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord,  furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever [and ever]. Amen."  (Hebrews 13: 20 - 21).

Brothers and sisters, let us claim this blessing in the name of Jesus. May He Jesus, the Great Shepherd give us the grace to do always His will.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need." (Psalm 23: 1).

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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Can you trust God with your money?

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

The devil sows fears, worries and doubts in our hearts.  "If you trust God about money, you will be poor, homeless and starve," the liar whispers. The ancient monster, Father of lies, repeats every day the game plan he used against Adam and Eve in Paradise.  He urged them not to trust God implying that God is a liar.

Do you trust God when He says to you: "I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Faith is to trust completely in the promises of God.

Jesus Christ, the night before He died, gave us His Body and Blood as a sign of the New Covenant.  "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."  (Luke 22: 20).  Has Jesus been faithful to this Covenant?  Every single day for the past 2000 years, everywhere, every day all over the world He offers the Bread of life to those who believe.   Just as Jesus was faithful to the Covenant yesterday, He is faithful today.  He will be faithful tomorrow.

Rest in His faithfulness with regard to money and all your needs.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Don't be weighed down by clutter and bagages.

"He [Jesus] summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts." (Mark 6: 7 - 8).

The Gospel of today presents us a challenge to examine our lifestyle to see if clutter and bagages are hindering the penetration of the Good News and make us ineffectual disciples.  Jesus never teaches a lesson He never lived Himself.  Like the Beatitudes which is a portrait of Himself, the evangelical poverty and simplicity Jesus prescribed to His disciples is what they see every day in His life among them.

Poverty like disease and ignorance frightens many people. But the fear is altogether irrational if we consider a few salient points:

#1.  Jesus, our Leader and Captain is without doubt the best in our human race. If it is good for Him, it should be good for us.

#2.  God knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

#3.  Who owns all the gold, silver, diamond, oceans, lands, etc if not God.

#4.  God asks:  "Is anything too marvelous for me to do for you?"  (Cf Genesis 18: 14).

Jesus knows that the greatest asset of the disciple is faith and complete trust in Him.  If a disciple is armed with this, he needs nothing more. It was therefore necessary to train His disciples at the outset of their ministry in this great truth.

"Fear is useless. All that is needed is trust."  (Mark 5:  36).

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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Endure your trials as discipline.

"Endure your trials as “discipline”.  (Hebrews 12: 7).

It was one Sunday morning at the 10 am Mass that I heard the above Scripture from the Altar.  I was in the midst of the most severe desert experience of my life. I had lost everything including health.  As I listened on, I heard this:

"For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" (v 7).  Is God saying that He is my Father?  Is my crisis therefore not divine retribution but training?  Then came the closing argument for me:

"If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards." 
(Hebrews 12: 8).

Indeed I had been without discipline for many years.  I welcomed this word of God into my heart with faith.  I went home, found the passage in my Bible and read and re-read it that blessed Sunday. What returns shall I make to the Lord for the wonderful thing He did for me on this Sunday?

"Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust.
 
"But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear him.  And his justice toward children’s children among those who keep his covenant." (Psalm 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18).

God is good all the time is not an empty slogan. It is a most profound truth.

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Monday, February 04, 2019

The Feast of St Agatha, Patron Saint of Breast Cancer.

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith."  (Hebrews 12: 1 - 2).

Today is the feast of St Agatha, Virgin and Martyr.  Agatha was martyred in the 3rd century under the persecution of Emperor Decius. Her cult was very popular from ancient times. She is the patron saint of breast cancer, sterility and rape victims amongst others.

Agatha is one of the "cloud of witnesses" urging us to run to win the Christian race that Jesus Christ our Leader set before us.  We Christians have today many challenges facing us in our Journey of Faith. But let's face it honestly. Unlike Agatha and so many other saints, "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood." (Hebrews 12: 4).

Disregard the negative and futile messages of the world and listen to Jesus who tells us:  "Fear is useless. All that is needed is trust."  (Mark 5:  36).

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Sunday, February 03, 2019

Men and women who conquered the world through faith.

"By faith they conquered kingdoms."  (Heb 11: 33).

Who are these who conquered kingdoms and did mighty deeds by faith?  They are:  "Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets."  (Hebrews 11: 32).

These mighty ones also through faith:  "closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders."
(Hebrews 11: 33 - 34).

Not just men did valiant deeds through faith but also women:  "Women received back their dead through resurrection.
Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection."  (Hebrews 11: 35).

Friends, through trusting in God and His promises, these men and women were able to accomplish impossible things.  Jesus spoke a great deal about the power of faith.  Again and again, He said that if we believe, we can move mountains. Nothing will be impossible for us if we have even a mustard seed size faith.

The Hebrews who were suffering severe persecution when the Letter to the Hebrews was written needed such message.  How about us? Look at the state of the world. We too need the strong medicine of Faith and Hope and Love.

"Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord." (Psalm 31: 25).

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Saturday, February 02, 2019

I appoint you my prophet to the nations.

"The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."  (Jeremiah 1: 4 - 5).

We may call the theme of the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time the tale of two prophets: Jeremiah and Jesus. The first Reading from Jeremiah 1 is an interesting dialogue between God and Jeremiah that resulted in Jeremiah accepting his mission to be a prophet. God truly piled on the incentives.  I am moved whenever I read this 1st Chapter of Jeremiah.

"But do you gird your loins;
stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land." (Jeremiah 1: 17 - 18).

How would you react to such motivation?

"They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."  (Jeremiah 1: 19).

From the Gospel of Luke we see the experience of the Prophet Jesus in the synagogue. The situation started with praise and admiration for Jesus and quickly turned to hostility and threat to His life.

What are we to make of the prophetic vocation?

If the Lord sends you to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives, thank Him for the honor and privilege. He will support you fully.  His faithfulness and love never fails.

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Friday, February 01, 2019

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

"Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord." (Luke 2: 22).

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  Christ was presented in the Temple to the Father in the substance of human flesh: One Person, God. Two natures: God and man.
Christ had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the manifestation of the Child Jesus to the People of Israel.  There were four representatives of the People present to witness this key event in salvation history: Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna.  Only Simeon, the Prophet spoke on this occasion.  He said that the event marks the fulfillment of the promise of God to Israel. God is faithful and fulfills every promise He makes.

The Presentation in the Temple gives us hope.  If you are waiting for God to fulfill any promises to you, you are now encouraged to believe that God will do it. He fulfilled His promises to Simeon, Mary, David and Abraham. Sacred Scripture records that God has fulfilled every single promise He has ever made.
Trust Him.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

You need endurance to do the will of God.

"You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised."  (Hebrews 10: 36).

Our reflection today is from the first Reading, the 10th Chapter of Hebrews.  If the message is not familiar to everyone, the experience is.  You know from experience that the Journey of Faith is a constant spiritual warfare.  When you are emerging from a brutal struggle with your health, you are hit with another with your finances. And then you are challenged in a different war zone: family, job or anxieties about the future.

The Letter to the Hebrews is written to Christians like ourselves.  But we have a great advantage.  We have the solid inheritance of 2000 years of Christianity.  We have the Church, the Hierarchy, the Sacraments, the Magisterium. We have the full Canonical Scriptures. They had none of these.  But nonetheless, they were expected to be firm and steadfast in their faith. How about us? Even more so, we are expected to be unflinching even before the most desperate circumstances.  Because:
"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."  (Luke 12: 48).

How long shall we be required to endure the trials?
We have great encouragement from Sacred Scriptures:
"For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay."  (Hebrews 10: 37).

Therefore my brothers and sisters,  "Do not throw away your confidence. It will have a great reward."  (Hebrews 10: 35).

Remember that the "Just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back [God] takes no pleasure in him." 
(Hebrews 10: 38).

Let us confess together in confidence:
"We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life." 
(Hebrews 10: 39).

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

February 1, 2019  -  First Friday in February.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 2nd  month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #2.

#2.  "I will give peace in their families."

My friends, many people like this promise because peace in the family is the foundation of health and prosperity. Moreover, if there is peace in the family, there will be peace at work and school, peace in the nation and peace on earth!

Jesus is our peace. He is the Prince of Peace.  Would you accept today His generous offer of peace in your family?

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I will shine my little light.

"Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?"  (Mark 4: 21).

In Baptism, we receive the light of Christ.  As we participate in the Sacraments and the life of the Church, the little light we receive in Baptism grows.  Where do you place this light?  In the lampstand or in the closet?
To hide your is futile.  Like a barren fig tree, you will be found out.

"For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light."  (Mark 4: 22).

It is more exciting to share the light you have.  Imagine the people who are desperate for it here and now. But you may say: I don't know what to say.  You have the Holy Spirit. Ask Him. Do you have the desire? If not, ask the Holy Spirit.  Jesus makes two promises with regard to your engagement with His word:

#1.  "The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you." 

#2.  "To the one who has, more will be given."

And a warning:
"From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  (Mark 4: 24 - 25).

Friends, just shine your light and it will grow. Most people can share messages through their phones.  Why don't you share the word of God?

"A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path."  (Psalm 119:105).

Jesus invites us to "approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust" to participate in the work of Evangelization. (Cf Hebrews 10: 22)
His promise is trustworthy.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

ADL will intrude and choke the word of God.

“Hear this! A sower went out to sow."  (Mark 4: 3).

Today's Gospel presents us with one of the most important and consequential parables of Jesus.  Consequential because it can be life transforming if we get the message.  The question is:  Does the life, Good News of Jesus Christ mean anything to you? Do you believe there is a life after death? Where are you on the Journey of Faith to the Next Life?

The Sower sows the seed.  "Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain." (Mark 4: 7).
The seed is the word of God. The Master Sower is Jesus Christ.  Today pastors, evangelists, missionaries and spirit-filled Christians are sowers of the seed.

Consider those seeds that fell among thorns:
"Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,  but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit."  (Mark 4: 18 - 19).

Do you know anybody with excessive anxiety about family, health, money, job, tools and possessions, food and the future? Could that person be you?  The Lord Jesus says that ADL or Anxieties of Daily Living will "intrude and choke the word."  And you will bear no fruit. In other words, you will be barren.

"Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son we may abound in good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever." (Collect Wednesday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time).

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Monday, January 28, 2019

You gave me ears open to obedience.

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but ears open to obedience you gave me."  (Psalm 40: 7).

Friends, do you have ears open to obedience? I mean obedience to the commandments of God? Obedience to His laws?  Obedience to the Church and its lawful teaching authority? Read below the blessings of such obedience:

“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Mark 3: 35).

Jesus made such a delightful pronouncement when He was informed that Mary and some relatives wanted to see Him while He was teaching the word of God.  Jesus loves His mother Mary and His relatives very much.  But the will of the Father was for Jesus to continue His ministry of the word of God at that time.

Was it a slight to Mary? Not at all.  Mary understands that the will of God takes precedence over everything. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1: 38).  On another occasion, Jesus said to Mary and Joseph:  “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

We Christians have been baptized and consecrated to do the will of God and abandon our futile habits of conforming to the world by choosing our own will.  When a teenager is adamant always and everywhere to prefer his will in everything, everybody knows the rest of the story. When you delight in doing God's will, you are brother and sister of Jesus and here is another promise you can claim:

"I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me.
And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God."  Psalm 40: 2).

The Lord will never forget anyone who delights in His will.

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